As we approach the close of the year and the third anniversary of Julie and I being in the parish and I want to give you an update on the annexe as I can appreciate that from the outside it doesn’t look like much has happened over the year when, in reality, a number of us have been working hard to see positive progress, albeit behind the scenes. I recognise the disappointment and concern that the hoardings, which are gradually decaying, remain in place; as a PCC we have recently considered whether an interim solution to secure the site and make it health & safety compliant in order to remove the hoardings was a good use of the finances that have been so faithfully given and raised over the years. We concluded that this was not appropriate as we remain committed and ever more hopeful of full completion of the Annex within the next 12-18 months. As you may recall me saying at our APCM, the full building works could be completed within 24 weeks once the outstanding funding has been agreed. There was great unity and spirit in our Tuesday night PCC conversation around the core questions at this stage.
So … what has been happening?
Several key decisions were made at our November PCC meeting. Firstly, the PCC agreed to commission an architect having received four comprehensive tenders for the work to resolve remaining essential details, building control and planning restrictions, accompanying us through the six-part RIBA JCT contract completion and guarantees a year after completion, with the priority of value engineering throughout. The tenders received offer professional help and support for a year beyond completion of the building work. Ultimately, we had a difficult choice to make as we had two excellent tenders from architects that clearly wanted to be involved in the project, had established a good rapport with Pete Gower and myself during the process and had a clear understanding of what is needed and the budget constraints to achieve that. PCC voted to invite Christian Pinchin at Unit 1 and we have commissioned them to work with us in this. Pete Gower and I met with them on-site earlier this week and we expect the full detailing by mid-February and then a tender process detail and costing of all the remaining internal and external works necessary by early April.
Secondly, the PCC also agreed the formal appointment of an Annex Development Team which, like every other ministry team has formal terms of reference. The team consists of Pete Gower - construction, Liz Warwick - finance, Martin Andrews - business, Julie Douglas - admin & comms & myself as coordinator & lead. This team will meet fortnightly and report back to the PCC with an update at every PCC meeting. Please do pray for us as we meet together that our different strengths, abilities, professional and spiritual giftings might work well for the furtherance of this project. There is a new momentum to progress all of this to an excellent finish.
Thirdly the PCC agreed to hold an additional meeting yesterday evening to solely consider the financing of the outstanding monies needed to complete the work. As you may recall we recruited a fundraiser to assist and though there was an expectation that £200K could be raised, in reality, this has been much harder as the complex history of the project have gone against us, as well as the uniqueness of this time and moment in global history. At worst we believe there may be a possible 600k shortfall in the total £1.5 million, project following the earlier sale of church property and the generous and sacrificial giving of us all as the church family over many years. We are ever aware of our responsibilities as trustees to be wise and prudent stewards of all that is entrusted to us and ensure that we are able to repay whatever monies we do borrow in a manner that allows the work of God to flourish in this place and not be an unnecessary burden.
Together as a PCC we unanimously agreed that we progress an application to an ethical loan provider, having had repeatedly positive conversations with them over the last nine months. We would finalise the loan amount and term after Easter regarding this all, with no desire for it to have to be as much as £600k but would be over a possible loan term of 15 years. This detail will be finalised by end of February with other approach and grant applications being made, and a substantial infrastructure grant being submitted before the year-end also, with SDC. As a PCC we also agreed to engage Josh, a coffee shop and hospitality specialist on a very modest amount to help us with ten days of input staggered over the next six months, inputting with regards to the approach and potential business model for the Annex given his proven expertise in this area. Josh is a committed Christian and has both a heart, experience and vision to see this type of business flourish as part of our witness to our community.
As I close this update I am powerfully reminded of the need to continue to trust God daily for His provision, to be thankful for what has gone before and the men and women of peace that have crossed our paths along the way in this project and that ultimately the annexe will be a safe and welcoming space where individuals and families come into contact with the love of God and find refuge and strength in these days. We will update more and consistently as this new momentum in regard to the Annexe unfolds. Any and all questions do just ask as we together seek to honour God and see this great asset and potential realised for the flourishing of our community.